Teaching “Doing” as a Lawyer During Law School – Steven Friedland

In doctrinal courses, we are used to teaching students to think critically, an activity often referred to in the legal education domain as “thinking like a lawyer.” This thinking component is central to what lawyers do. But Lee Schulman, a co-author of the Carnegie Report (2007) and author of “Signature Pedagogies in the Professions,” in Daedalus 52 (Summer 2005)and a former professor at Stanford U. has observed that preparing students for the professions requires not only thinking critically, but also acting and performing with integrity. (Integrity is a nice way to describe ethics, using new vocabulary to wrap lawyering in a high standard.)

The ideas of action and performance are not new, but when held up alongside critical thinking, they create a nice trilogy of legal education outcomes. Acting is how lawyers interact with others, prepare, and behave while working, but not performing. Performing is when a lawyer is engaged in a law practice activity requiring competency, such as oral argument, examining a witness at a deposition or trial, or mediating a dispute.

Now that I have provided some background, my essential point in this brief blog post is as follows — If acting and performing are so important, we should be teaching students to do these things throughout law school, starting on the very first day of the first year of school, woven throughout doctrinal courses as well as clinical and legal writing offerings. Learning science supports this integration. In learning science, it has been shown that engaged learners perform better. Creating deliverables is a way to engage students in a positive fashion. Deliverables such as, “Do a direct examination of the plaintiff in this case,” or “Take a picture of an easement on real property and explain why,” or, “Write down ten questions you would have of the plaintiff in this case if you were able to ask them,” are just some illustrations of deliverables. Role-playing generally falls within the rubric of a deliverable, since students must give a performance as an attorney, judge, witness or other person – just not as a student.

Yet, it is hard to get out of our own way. After teaching for a long time, we develop habits that are difficult to shake, and taking risks with new approaches provides its own set of issues as well. But if legal education is really transitioning students through school into practice – and not just teaching discrete substantive segments – we probably ought to try doing something like this, even if only as a Beta test.

CSALE 2013-14 Survey of Applied Legal Education – by Mary Lynch

The Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education’s (CSALE) 2013-14 Survey of Applied Legal Education is now available on CSALE’s website http://www.csale.org/results.html and on SSRN http://ssrn.com/abstract=2566484

The 43-page report provides the summary results of CSALE’s third triennial survey of law school clinics and externships and the faculty teaching in those clinical courses. Over 88% of ABA-accredited law schools participated in the survey, which included theMaster SurveyLaw Clinics Sub-SurveyField Placement Course Sub-Survey, and Faculty Sub-Survey.

CSALE can also provide free customized reports on questions in the surveys – contact administrator@csale.org or rkuehn@wustl.edu.

Clinical Law Review Workshop – Registration deadline is June 30, 2015

The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 26, 2015, at NYU Law School.

 

The Workshop will provide an opportunity for clinical teachers who are writing about any subject (clinical pedagogy, substantive law, interdisciplinary analysis, empirical work, etc.) to meet with other clinicians writing on related topics to discuss their works-in-progress and brainstorm ideas for further development of their articles. Attendees will meet in small groups organized, to the extent possible, by the subject matter in which they are writing. Each group will “workshop” the draft of each member of the group.

 

Participation in the Workshop requires the submission of a paper because the workshop takes the form of small group sessions in which all members of the group comment on each other’s manuscripts. By June 30, all applicants will need to submit a mini-draft or prospectus, 3-5 pages in length, of the article they intend to present at the workshop. Full drafts of the articles will be due by September 1, 2015.

 

As in the previous Clinical Law Review Workshops, participants will not have to pay an admission or registration fee but participants will have to arrange and pay for their own travel and lodging. To assist those who wish to participate but who need assistance for travel and lodging, NYU Law School has created a fund for scholarships to help pay for travel and lodging. The scholarships are designed for those clinical faculty who receive little or no travel support from their law schools and who otherwise would not be able to attend this conference without scholarship support. Applicants for scholarships will be asked to submit, with their 3-5 page prospectus, by June 30, a proposed budget for travel and lodging and a brief statement of why the scholarship would be helpful in supporting their attendance at this conference. The Board will review all scholarship applications and issue decisions about scholarships in early July. The scholarships are conditioned upon recipients’ meeting all requirements for workshop participation, including timely submission of drafts, and will be capped at a maximum of $750 per person.

 

Information about the Workshop – including the Registration form, scholarship application form, and information for reserving hotel rooms – is available on-line at:

 

http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/clinicallawreview/clinical-writers-workshop

 

If you have any comments or suggestions you would like to send us, we would be very happy to hear from you. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Randy Hertz at randy.hertz@nyu.edu.

 

— The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review

Workshop on Measuring Learning Gains June 22-24

Registration is now open for the AALS Midyear Workshop of Measuring Learning Gains. The Workshop will address assessment of learning and evaluation of programs.  The workshop promises to be a hands-on program for legal educators to develop assessment plans and the tools and techniques to make those plans a success.
Register at the AALS website.

Crafting Learning Outcomes — What Verbs Do You Use?

A few years ago my clinical colleagues and I started to jointly teach Orientation for all our clinic students. The Orientation is typically 3 days long (this semester it was only 3 half days) and is a mixture of joint classes and smaller individual clinic-focused sessions. The joint classes focus on topics that are relevant to all clinic students, such as Introduction to Client Interviewing, Cross-Cultural Lawyering, Clinic Procedures, Acting for Lawyers, Persuasion for Lawyers, Factfinding, Legal Research for Clinic and a class devoted to team-building. We also set aside time for each clinic to meet individually to discuss clinic-specific topics.

Now, we’re thinking about whether to convert the Clinic Orientation into a stand-alone, 2-credit module. To me, the process of developing a curriculum and course proposal for this new class provides an opportunity to start backwards – to incorporate some backward design techniques into the course structure and design. Backward design theory explains that while a syllabus can offer a roadmap to the schedule and assignments for a semester, it is far less useful for setting goals and assessing student outcomes. By contrast, articulating learning outcomes at the beginning of the semester enables us as educators to more effectively measure student progress and provides us with a basis of comparison. So, I decided to start this semester with an eye toward the desired outcomes. What did we want our clinic students to know and be able to do at the end of Orientation?

So, as I sat through the Orientation classes this semester, I focused on crafting a series of learning outcomes for our students. Shortly into it, I found that the most challenging part of creating learning objectives is finding the best wording. I wanted to say “understand” for each topic – students would understand the value of client-centered lawyering, for example. But I recalled an earlier post on this blog, by Barbara Glesner-Fines, in which she recommended avoiding vague verbs, such as “understand,” because they do not effectively measure achievement. Instead, we should focus on “action verbs” that clearly define our expectations for our students.

What were the right verbs for my list of learning outcomes? As students go through the curriculum, we expect them to improve and gain new skills. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (1956), there are six categories of cognitive skills that students pass through as they learn. At the basic level, students begin with knowledge skills and gradually acquire skills of comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The language we use for learning objectives should reflect students’ increased cognitive skills throughout the semester. For example, students at the beginning of the semester may be expected to “define,” “recognize,” or “state” the significance of a legal concept, showing their developing skills. By the end of the semester, they should be able to “evaluate,” “interpret,” and “investigate” the proceedings of the courtroom trial, moving into more advanced skills and knowledge.

Here are some more verbs to include based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:

Knowledge level:

  • Define
  • Describe
  • Recall
  • Record
  • State

Comprehension level:

  • Classify
  • Compare
  • Explain
  • Identify
  • Report

Application level:

  • Apply
  • Construct
  • Summarize
  • Demonstrate
  • Solve
  • Execute

Analysis level:

  • Analyze
  • Distinguish
  • Critique
  • Diagnose
  • Debate

Synthesis level:

  • Develop
  • Plan
  • Manage
  • Organize
  • Propose

Evaluation level:

  • Appraise
  • Argue
  • Conclude
  • Measure
  • Defend
  • Integrate

Knowing that this was a set of outcomes from Orientation and that our students were at the beginning of the learning process, many of the verbs I used are closer to the top of this list than they are to the bottom. At the end of the semester, I might expect to seek outcomes toward the bottom of the Taxonomy.

Here is my draft list of learning objectives for the Villanova Law Clinic Orientation. The process of crafting learning outcomes is still relatively new to me, so I’d love to benefit from the community and hear your comments/feedback on how this list could be improved upon.

Client Interviewing:

  • Students will explain the value of and be able to plan for an initial client interview; anticipate and identify how the client might feel and think about the interview; consider impediments to an effective interview; explain the value of building trust and rapport with a client at the beginning of a lawyer-client relationship; construct a set of goals for an initial client interview from the perspective of both the client and the student/lawyer.
  • Students will plan for and conduct one or more simulations of an initial client interview.
  • Students will be exposed to the importance of cultural sensitivity and issues of difference between themselves and their clients; be able to see the world through the eyes of another and appreciate new perspectives.

Professional Formation/Becoming a Lawyer:

  • Students will be familiar with the competencies necessary to become an effective lawyer and the underlying research; consider what kind of lawyer each student would like to be; develop greater self-awareness; consider how to find happiness as a lawyer in relation to each student’s own individual strengths and virtues.
  • Students will explain the value of learning about an office’s internal operations and recall procedures, such as, where and how to store files, how to maintain files, how to mail correspondence, where to find supplies, who is responsible for different functions in an office and other relevant office matters.

Teamwork and Collaboration:

  • Students will appreciate the value of and complications that may arise from collaborating with others on a team; work on teams for various exercises.

Advocacy:

  • Students will demonstrate principles of persuasion and explain the importance of being persuasive as a lawyer; apply the factors to consider in making a persuasive argument (ethos, pathos and logos), such as understanding one’s audience and how to influence that audience’s heart and mind, building one’s professional reputation and leveraging the reputation of others, as well as the value of building a logical case.

Reflection:

  • Students will implement key understandings about learning, such as the circular process of planning, doing, reflection, with the goal of continuously reflecting upon and improving one’s work.

Diligence and Hard Work:

  • Students will hear about and see models of diligent lawyers, yet also distinguish between diligence and a healthy balance between work and pleasure and the value of levity and playfulness in a workplace

What verbs do you use in assessments and learning objectives? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

New Journal of Experiential Learning Available Now Online

Thanks to Touro Law School,  a new resource for our readers is now available.  The  Touro Law Center’s Journal of Experiential Learning has been launched online.  The inaugural edition  contains a foreword by Professor David Thompson, an Introduction by Dean Patricia Salkin and concluding remarks by Professor Luke Bierman.  Articles include

Ian Gallacher
Wes Porter
Christine Cerniglia Brown
Mary Lynch
Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo
Myra E. Berman

The  second issue will focus on post-JD incubator programs.  A call for papers has been out and a number of articles are already committed.  If you or a colleague would like to contribute, please contact Coordinating Editor, Associate Dean Myra Berman at mberman@tourolaw.edu<mailto:mberman@tourolaw.edu>

Also, if you have thematic ideas for future issues (e.g., legal process, externships/placements, clinics, pro bono, any doctrinal subject area, etc.) please let Dean Berman know.

Hot off the Presses – Evaluation of Experiential Daniel Websters Program Shows Graduates “Ahead of the Curve”

The long awaited report from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) and it’s Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers project is available on line. Entitled “AHEAD OF THE CURVE Turning Law Students into Lawyers A Study of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law “ the report describes the work done “with an evaluation consulting firm to conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis of existing research to evaluate outcomes of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program. “ 

The report authors found:

  • In focus groups, members of the profession and alumni said they believe that students who graduate from the program are a step ahead of new law school graduates;
  •  When evaluated based on standardized client interviews, students in the program outperformed lawyers who had been admitted to practice within the last two years; and
  • The only significant predictor of standardized client interview performance was whether or not the interviewer participated in the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program. Neither LSAT scores nor class rank was significantly predictive of interview performance.

This evaluation should prove extremely useful as law schools, state courts and the ABA continue to examine the best way to prepare law students for the profession.

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